KBIS, Builders’ Show Go All Virtual

Last January’s pre-COVID KBIS.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Taking a page from the BrandSource playbook, the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the country’s largest trade event for home appliances, has decided to go all virtual for its annual exhibition this winter.

As recently as two weeks ago, KBIS, which is held in tandem with the International Builders’ Show (IBS), was slated for this February at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. But after a host of major industry trade events shifted entirely online — beginning in August with BrandSource’s 2020 Virtual Convention — and given a coronavirus case count in Orange County that’s now topped 45,000, the shows’ producers decided to follow suit.

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“The safety and well-being of our attendees, partners, exhibitors, site workers and staff has always been our top priority,” said Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). “As we now cross the 16-weeks-out mark, it was time to transition to 100 percent focus on a virtual event.”

Industry response has been positive. As Chad Evans, AVB’s VP of merchandising commented, “With the current circumstances we are growing more accustomed to the virtual environment and we are excited to see what the new format for KBIS will bring.”

He continued, “Just as we did during the BrandSource Convention, the first virtual event in our industry, we anticipate being able to have meaningful conversations and the opportunity to view good content.”

 Thomas Yoon, president and CEO of LG Electronics North America, concurred. “In our shared commitment to the health and safety of industry colleagues, we fully support [the] decision to reimagine the 2021 KBIS and IBS events,” he said. “As trusted partners, LG and Signature Kitchen Suite remain committed to … deliver[ing] engaging virtual experiences for the designer and builder communities.”

Added David Kohler, CEO of the kitchen and bath supply company that bears his name, “With [the] safety and well-being of attendees, exhibitors, vendors and trade-show staff as the priority, Kohler Co. applauds the difficult but appropriate decision made jointly by the NKBA and NAHB converting KBIS and IBS, respectively, to being 100 percent virtual.” Echoing Yoon, he said, “We look forward to the opportunity to connect with our trade customers and showcase our new products and innovations.”

According to the show producers, KBIS and IBS (together known as Design & Construction Week) will be held online the week of Feb. 8, 2021 with “extended programming,” and will return to Orlando as an on-site event in February 2022. Online registration for KBIS 2021 will reopen in November, and complete details on the virtual event are expected soon, the NKBA said. A FAQ page for attendees and exhibitors can be found here.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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